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Matt Taylor savours ‘incredible night’ as Exeter clinch promotion

Matt Taylor, centre, gets a celebratory soaking from his players (Ben Birchall/PA)
Matt Taylor, centre, gets a celebratory soaking from his players (Ben Birchall/PA)

Exeter manager Matt Taylor hailed an incredible night for the club as the Grecians ended a 10-year stay in League Two by beating Barrow 2-1 at St James Park to win promotion.

In front of a packed crowd, the game itself lacked real quality as perhaps the tension of the night got to some of the Exeter players and Barrow revelled in their role as party-poopers.

Barrow went in front when a long throw hit the back post and ended up in the net off goalkeeper Cameron Dawson before Kieran Phillips’ deflected shot levelled matters 10 minutes before half-time.

There was barely a chance created in the second half, but Exeter academy graduate and captain Matt Jay drilled in a half-volley with 12 minutes remaining to fire the Grecians into League One.

“It was an incredible night for the club,” Taylor said. “It was a strange game and to fall behind to a freakish goal in that manner – and then score a deflected one ourselves – summed up the type of game it was really.

“We just had to grind out a performance that kept level in relation to the context of the game and fortunately, that chance has fallen to MJ, our captain, our academy product, a constant threat in terms of his goals and he took it so well and we saw the game out.

“I can’t remember a chance for either side in the second half – barely a chance in the first half. It just shows where the game was played, it was all in the middle of the pitch and it was difficult to gain control and I can’t remember any clear-cut chances.

“As the second half went on it was just a battle, a war of attrition and we had to be ready for our moment and MJ was.

“As soon as that goal went in, it felt like that was it because neither side was creating chances. We had to withstand a few long balls, but we were comfortable after that.”

Forest Green’s defeat to Swindon saw Exeter move alongside the leaders on 83 points, leaving the title on the line.

Taylor said: “There are two games to go and it’s all level on points, but we have to enjoy this moment first.”

Barrow boss Phil Brown said: “Their surface is an absolute bowling green and they play second ball, percentage football – more direct, if you like, and I didn’t expect it.

“But that is how they have got promotion and they deserve promotion. It is not about tonight, it is about the previous 43 games and they have been more consistent than we have.

“I have just said those words to the players that next season we want to feel what they are feeling right now.

“It is possible if they listen to what I have got to say and we do enough of the horrible side of the game and the good side will take care of itself.

“(Exeter) have done it over the course of the season and good luck to them. We wish them well next season.

“The second goal was going to be important and we sensed we were going to be up against it.”

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